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26 TABLE 30 SUMMARY OF THE RTD HC BUSES Passenger Floor Year Type Model Seats No. of Buses Height 1997 45-ft 102D3 55 71 High 2000 Articulated 436 63 119 High 2001 45-ft AN 345/3 55 85 High Source: Survey responses and Reference 1. Free MallRide Shuttle A unique feature of RTD's downtown transportation net- work is the MallRide shuttle. MallRide provides mobility between all three downtown stations (Market Street, Civic Center, and Union Station), as well as an easy (and free) transport system to downtown offices and retail stores. FIGURE 7 An RTD 45-ft skyRide bus at Denver International Airport. The MallRide shuttle is a special purpose 45-ft HC bus, with three wide doors, low-floor entrance, and a capacity required environmental engine adjustment had resulted in for 116 passengers. Average weekday boardings are ap- lower performance. proximately 64,000 passengers. The shuttle is powered by an environmentally friendly hybrid propulsion system RTD does not have any wage differential for operating [compressed natural gas (CNG), electric]. It has a wheel- HC buses. They did not experience any legislative or regula- chair ramp to enable passengers with disabilities to board tory impediments to the use of HC buses. RTD has no service and exit with greater speed and ease. As the shuttle travels restrictions, such as standees, on any of their HC buses. the 16th Street Mall, it provides connections for all bus routes entering the downtown as well as the D Line light The wheelchair accommodations for the articulated rail at Stout and California Streets and the C Line light rail buses are a lift in the first door and two forward-facing at Union Station. Figure 8 shows the MallRide shuttle at the wheelchair securement positions in the front of the bus. The Market Street station. 45-ft coaches have a lift in a second door and two forward- facing securement positions. RTD's experience with the VICTORIA REGIONAL TRANSIT SYSTEM/BC transport of passengers using wheelchairs was reported as TRANSIT: SEARCH FOR HIGHER CAPACITY the same as with their 40-ft bus fleet. However, the 45-ft IN AN OLDER CITY CONTEXT coach lift was reported to be very slow, resulting in long loading times. Front bicycle racks are used on the articulated The city of Victoria is located on Vancouver Island in British buses (see Figure 4), and on the 45-ft intercity coaches (see Columbia and has a population of 340,000. Transit service at Figure 6). the Victoria Regional Transit System is provided by BC Tran- sit, a provincial Crown corporation. Victoria Regional transit Several of the survey responses commented on the diffi- has a fleet of 211 conventional buses. In addition to providing culty of operating articulated buses in snow conditions. The the transit service in Victoria, BC Transit plays a prominent RTD regularly uses snow tires on the drive axle of its articu- role in transit in the small communities across the province lated buses during the winter months. In December 2006, three large snowstorms struck the Denver area. All service was temporarily halted, but HC buses, including articulated buses, were equally deployed as service was restored. The articulated fleet is equipped with recording security cameras. The 45-ft intercity coaches have reclining seats, luggage racks, and reading lights. A summary of some of the features of RTD's current HC fleets is given in Table 30. Both articulated and 45-ft intercity coaches have been a vital part of the RTD fleet. The use of these types of buses will likely be reduced over the next decade as selected major bus corridors are converted to light rail or commuter FIGURE 8 RTD's MallRide Shuttle at the Market Street station rail service. stop.

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27 (excluding the Vancouver region); among its various activi- strips of land and peninsulas that are sandwiched between ties, it coordinates and funds the procurement of a province- mountains and the surrounding sea and inlets. wide municipal fleet, and provides planning and marketing assistance to the small transit systems in the province. The geographic constraints and historical evolution of the city have resulted in a very dense network of operation for BC Transit enjoys a reputation of being one of the most the region's transit routes. Transit operates on relatively few progressive and innovative transit systems in Canada. In arterials (Figure 10), mostly radially feeding into a down- 1991, it was the first transit system in North America to intro- town core, which consists of typically narrow streets, with duce low-floor accessible 40-ft transit buses, paving the way short blocks and a high concentration of pedestrian and for a wave of interest across Canada. It has been also been traffic activity in a very limited area (Figure 11). at the forefront of introducing various ridership-building initiatives including Transportation Demand Management, In the mid-1990s, BC Transit management sought options employer-based commuter transportation options, and em- for increasing vehicle capacity, especially on certain heavily ployer- and university-based special transit pass programs used long-distance routes on which ridership was growing (e.g., Eco Pass and U-Pass). and had periodically experienced overload situations. The use of HC buses could alleviate the overload conditions while providing capacity for growth. Articulated buses rep- Background resented a significant operational challenge in the downtown core given the levels of traffic, pedestrian congestion, and the The city of Victoria has deep historical roots. Founded as a great competition for curb space caused by the street layout. trading post in 1843, its population rose dramatically after Management had contemplated double-deck buses as an gold was discovered in British Columbia in 1858, becoming option, but existing double-deck bus models were not com- the base supply port and outfitting center for miners. In 1871, patible with the agency's policy of full accessibility; the it became the provincial capital when British Columbia agency was particularly proud of having been the first transit joined the confederation, and enjoyed a large real estate system in Canada to deploy low-floor accessible buses. boom just before World War I that left a large legacy of his- torical buildings downtown. Victoria is also a geographically constrained city as shown in Figure 9, squeezed on narrow Justification In 1997, a major order of more than 1,000 low-floor double- deck buses was delivered to Hong Kong, which convinced se- nior management at BC Transit that the concept of a low-floor double-deck bus was technically feasible. Staff explored with various manufacturers of low-floor double-deck buses the pos- sibility of developing a vehicle for their North American market with the minimum size of fleet that would be mutually acceptable. One manufacturer expressed interest in the concept. An agency report was prepared in May 1998 by BC Tran- sit staff to review options for deploying HC buses, which assessed both double-deck and articulated buses, in terms of capacity, cost, and other factors. The assessment concluded that in Victoria's context, there was considerable merit to rec- ommending deployment of double-deck buses for BC Transit. In particular, double-deck buses had the following advantages: The shorter length of the double-deck bus more closely matches the shorter street block length within the Downtown Core. The longer articulated bus would add to congestion within the Downtown Core and reduce the efficiency of major downtown bus stops. The double-deck bus has a higher passenger carrying capacity than the articulated bus (120 versus 108) and also provides seating for the majority of the customers (90 for a double-deck versus 54 in an articulated bus). This provides improved pas- senger comfort, particularly on the intended routes which have relatively long travel times (18). In addition, the financial assessment of the vehicle appeared FIGURE 9 Victoria Regional Transit System service area. quite positive. The estimated cost of purchasing the 11 vehicles

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28 FIGURE 10 Transit service in Victoria. was $6.5 million [Canadian (Cdn)] and the report estimated that double-deck buses increase capacity by increasing seating 11 double-deck buses would provide the same level of service rather than standing capacity (18). as 16 standard buses. This would eliminate the need to purchase and operate five buses, reducing annual operating costs by The report also identified a detailed deployment plan $300,000 Cdn. The net present value savings would be $2 mil- based on the following logic: lion Cdn over the service life of these vehicles. The fleet of double-deck buses provides an opportunity to attract a growing market without increases in operating costs through As a result, BC Transit Management recommended that the provision of additional capacity. The buses are most suitable the Victoria Regional Transit Commission acquire 11 low- to longer trips where passengers are on-board the bus for longer floor double-deck buses stating the following key benefits: time periods. These trips also provide the best opportunity to increase service efficiency. Double-deck buses improve operating and service quality in three ways, namely: Suburban locations such as Sooke and Sidney are well suited to elimination of the need to dispatch a second "overload" bus the use of double-deck vehicles as the passengers tend to be col- when peak loads exceed the passenger carrying capacity of the lected at a relatively few stops and travel to a limited number of regularly scheduled buses, destinations (for example, Western Exchange or Downtown introduction of high capacity buses enables transit to increase Victoria). This travel pattern minimizes the number of "ons and the carrying capacity of the route with little increase in the cost offs" experienced at stops along the route and provides the most of service, and suitable target market for double-deck buses . . .

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29 FIGURE 11 Downtown Victoria: Street layout and transit service. The first eleven double-deck buses would be focused on pro- Development of a North American version of the viding EXPRESS service to the Western Communities and vehicle, Saanich Peninsula during peak hours. In addition, trips will be scheduled to reduce the need for "overload" buses to post- Pre-deployment planning, and secondary institutions during the late AM peak and early PM Required modifications for vehicle maintenance. peak and to accommodate growing demand and reduce over- load requirements for service to BC Ferries throughout the day and weekends (18). Development of a North American Version of the Vehicle The recommendation was accepted, and staff proceeded to negotiate the procurement of these buses, which were This was the first deployment of an accessible low-floor dou- introduced into service in June 2000. ble-deck bus for transit service in North America. As a result, BC Transit staff had to work closely with the manufacturer to Preparation for Deployment develop a vehicle specification that would allow it to be cer- tified in Canada (and subsequently in the United States), and There were three key aspects to preparing for the deployment be equipped with standard North American components to of double-deck buses: facilitate servicing and maintenance.

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30 Figure 12 is an exterior picture of the bus, and Figure 13 is an interior photo of the upper deck. The lack of intrusions (e.g., doors and wheelchair securement positions) allows for a large number of seats (i.e., 53), which explains the high total seat capacity of 81 seats for the bus, as illustrated in the floor plans for the bus (see Figures 14 and 15). The double- deck bus also incorporates some special customer amenities such as reading lights and a quiet the upper deck, which are highly appreciated by passengers. Pre-Deployment Planning The 1998 report had included an implementation plan that identified the initial routes where the double-deck buses would be deployed. These consisted of a number of long-distance peak express routes, as well as specific trips experiencing over- FIGURE 13 Interior of the upper deck of the double-deck bus. (Source: BC Transit.) load situations on a regular basis (e.g., to the University and to the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal with ferry service to the mainland). reduction of the height by a two inches (from 14 ft 2 in. to 14 ft 0 in.). The second requirement for deploying the vehicles was to work with the provincial regulatory authorities to obtain Third, staff had to check the height along the six double- a provincial over-height exemption. The relationship be- deck bus routes; this was carried out by attaching a 14-ft stick tween BC Transit and the provincial regulatory agency was to a supervisor's vehicle to measure height clearance. This excellent, and staff from the two agencies worked closely process identified a number of utility structures that were not together to obtain the exemption certification (which must in compliance with clearance requirements, and these were be carried in the vehicle). It should be noted that the manu- communicated to the utility companies. Although a few facturer has subsequently re-engineered the HVAC system, streets had to be avoided by the buses because they included moving some of the ductwork to the walls, allowing a historic trees with low canopies, planted as a war memorial, it did not cause any significant problem. It should be noted that the vehicle incorporates a "tree-guard" in the front at the roof line, which provides some additional protection against low branches. The only significant problem identified was the identifica- tion of one rail overpass where the bridge needed to be lifted at a cost of $125,000 Cdn. This was the only significant cost item for accommodating the double-deck buses. Street furniture and stops also needed to be assessed. The double-deck bus has a shorter wheel base (224 in.), compared with that of standard 40-ft buses (285 in.), resulting in a sweep that is considerably greater. The former clear zone requirement for the 40-ft bus on the sidewalk had been 18 in., but the double-deck bus requires a clear zone of 27 in. As a consequence, street furniture needed to be relocated. It should be noted however that the 27 in. clearance is now also required by the 30-ft buses operated by BC Transit because of their short wheel base. Required Modifications for Vehicle Maintenance The garage facilities had sufficient height clearance to accom- modate the double-deck bus height, and had occasionally been FIGURE 12 Low-floor double-deck bus of the Victoria Regional used for maintenance of private tourist-style double-deck Transit System. (Source: BC Transit.) buses. The only modifications required were:

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31 FIGURE 14 Floor plan of lower deck of Victoria's double-deck bus. (Source: Alexander Dennis.) The acquisition of a 6-post hoist, destinations. On-board times are considerable (one hour A scissors-lift work platform for mechanics to access to from Sooke, 40 min from CanWest Mall) and frequency the roof area for maintenance, and of service to these areas is six to seven buses per hour. A modification to the vacuum system. a.m. and p.m. peak buses to Saanich Peninsula (Routes 70--Pat Bay, 72--Sidney, and 75--C. Saanich): These Bus wash height is also a consideration. However, a new bus routes are also characterized by increasing demand and wash had previously been installed that could handle the longer travel times (travel from Sidney in the a.m. peak vehicle's height. is approximately 45 min. Frequency of service is 12 buses per hour in the peak periods on the 70 or 72 routes. Deployment Figure 16 provides the details of Route 70, which serves the Saanich Peninsula and the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. As outlined in the implementation plan, the initial deploy- ment was as follows: In addition to the long-distance commuter express ser- vices, the double-deck buses were also deployed on specific Service from Sooke and Western Communities (a.m. and trips characterized as follows: p.m. Commuter Peak Express): These routes are charac- terized by increasing demand. Most passengers are col- Peak shoulder period service to post-secondary institu- lected in relatively small areas and travel to concentrated tions: After the a.m. peak trips and before the p.m. peak FIGURE 15 Floor plan of upper deck of Victoria's double-deck bus. (Source: Alexander Dennis.)

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32 the HC vehicles in these busy periods helped eliminate the need for "overload" trippers. Off-peak service to Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal and Butchart Gardens: Demand for service to these two important destinations was growing. At times, three buses were also deployed to provide sufficient off-peak capacity to meet the demand for travel from the Ferry Terminal or the Gardens. A typical pattern for use of the double-deck buses in the initial deployment might have been as follows: Early peak: Inbound express commuter trips. Late morning peak and mid-day: University route. 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: School tripper with overloads. Afternoon peak: Outbound commuter trips. Ten buses were eventually acquired and deployed as out- lined previously. The deployment of these first buses was so successful that a subsequent 29 buses were acquired, with more to be acquired in the future. Three of the double-deck buses operate in the city of Kelowna in central British Columbia, a city of just over 100,000, with a fleet of 47 con- ventional buses. In Victoria, half of the current fleet is operated in Express commuter service and half is now operated in base trunk urban service. Figure 17 illustrates an example of a heavy demand urban route serving major demand genera- tors (e.g., both the University of Victoria and Camosun College), where double-deck buses have been successfully deployed. Experience The experience in Victoria with double-deck buses has been overwhelmingly successful. Examples mentioned by inter- viewees include: Regular customers and tourists truly appreciate the view from the upper deck and the quiet; these seats always fill up. During the introduction of double-deck buses, cus- tomers would let regular buses pass so that they might ride on a double-deck bus. There continues to be a "wow" effect, even six years after their initial deployment, and staff still receives positive comments from customers. Although no formal measurement of ridership impact FIGURE 16 Route 70 serving Saanich Peninsula and BC ferry terminal. has been undertaken, staff is convinced that it has had a positive effect. trips from downtown to suburban destinations, the double- The introduction of HC buses facilitated the implemen- deck buses were deployed to increase efficiency and tation of BC Transit's U-Pass programs; the deployment accommodate the growing demand to post-secondary in- of HC buses to the routes serving the University and stitutions (University of Victoria and Camosun College). College has enabled BC Transit to accommodate the in- Buses were generally provided through overtime. Using creased ridership stimulated by the U-Pass Program.

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33 FIGURE 17 Route 4 University--Example of trunk urban service operated with double-deck buses. These buses are highly desired by operators, because of to reduce, as warranted, any additional recovery time that has the quality of the ride and handling offered by the vehi- been added when the double-deck buses are introduced. cles, as well as because of the recognition factor associ- ated with the unique buses; senior operators always sign up for these runs first. Safety and Security The following sections discuss a few specific issues related Safety of passengers ascending and descending the internal to the deployment of double-deck buses by BC Transit. staircase is an obvious area of concern. BC Transit's experi- ence has been that this has not turned out to be an issue. The staircase is narrow and has sufficient handholds and stan- Scheduling chions as can be seen in Figures 18 and 19, and standees are not allowed on the upper deck. Staff was somewhat concerned about the scheduling of the dou- ble-deck buses, and decided at the outset to add some additional There appears to be an informal self-sorting among pas- recovery time at the end of the runs, whenever double-deck sengers; those few passengers who may have concerns tend to buses were introduced to a route. The experience has been that stay on the lower deck. In addition, it has been observed that the vehicle's acceleration is no different than standard low-floor passengers prepare to exit the bus well in advance of the stop, buses; however, dwell time can be higher, merely because of and this has taken place without any information campaign by the increased vehicle capacity. This is somewhat mitigated by the agency. Interviewed staff indicates that no significant ac- a tendency of passengers on double-deck buses to pre-position cidents have occurred, and there are fewer passenger inci- themselves in advance of their stop (i.e., to initiate their descent dents inside double-deck buses than for passengers exiting the from the upper deck at the stop preceding theirs). The Auto- second door on any bus (standard or double-deck). matic Passenger Counting (APC) system tracks schedule adherence in addition to passenger activity and is used by staff To ensure the security of passengers on the upper deck, to continuously monitor running times. These data enable staff closed circuit television cameras have been installed, with a

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34 FIGURE 18 Internal double-deck staircase as seen from FIGURE 19 Internal double-deck staircase as seen from above. (Source: BC Transit.) below. (Source: BC Transit.) monitor provided to the operator; this replaces the periscope with BC Transit staff, identified an engineering solution to mirror that was traditional in older generation Route Master reduce this problem. A manual switch was installed, which double-deck buses. can be activated by the operator when required. When acti- vated, some air is bled off from the suspension of the tag axle so that the weight is more focused on the drive axle, provid- Vehicle Performance ing better traction. After the bus gets going, the air bag fills up automatically again. With this modification, the perfor- The performance of the vehicle has generally been positive. mance of double-deck buses in snow conditions is equivalent Acceleration, grade climbing, turning maneuverability, and to that of the standard buses. range were ranked in the survey response as superior to that of their standard 40-ft buses, and reliability was ranked as the same. Accommodation of Wheelchairs One interesting aspect was an initial concern that staff had about the potential leaning or tipping of the bus, which might As mentioned, BC Transit has been one of the leaders in pro- create a feeling of sway for customers on the upper deck. The moting accessibility of transit service and was the first tran- experience has been that, despite its height, the double-deck sit system to introduce low-floor accessible 40-ft buses in bus has a suspension system that maintains its vertical to a North America. When these buses were introduced in 1992, higher degree than do standard buses, and there is no per- BC Transit developed its own version of a practical forward- ceived sway on the upper deck. facing securement system. The introduction of the double- deck buses, in parallel with that of a new fleet of 30-ft buses, provided an opportunity to reexamine the securement system Snow Operation in use. Although rear-facing wheelchair position was the norm in the United Kingdom and some transit systems in Another issue concerned vehicle performance in snow con- Canada had also moved in that direction, there had not been ditions, because the initial order of buses experienced poor any standardized approach. BC Transit staff actively partici- traction in snow conditions. The bus manufacturer, working pated in the development of a Canadian Standards Associa-